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Trip Itinerary with 2 year old, husband and me (I could be 6 months pregnant)

Trip Itinerary with 2 year old, husband and me (I could be 6 months pregnant)

Old Sep 12th, 2008, 10:04 AM
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Trip Itinerary with 2 year old, husband and me (I could be 6 months pregnant)

Help! I need advice on traveling to Costa Rica. We have a little girl who will be almost 2 when we are planning to travel and I will most likely be pregnant (6 months at the most).

We are adventurous, but need some more kid friendly places since our daughter will be with us. We want to see great places, but would like to keep the driving to a minimum.

I was thinking the Peace Lodge at La Paz for sure and most likely Manuel Antonio national park as well. Can anyone suggest anything else that is within 3 hours or so from San Jose? We don't want to take multiple flights so I know we are limited, but I just wanted some other options to look into.

Thanks so much!!
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Old Sep 12th, 2008, 10:25 AM
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Oh, and how is Puerto Viejo? Can anyone reccommend some more upscale resorts in this area?
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Old Sep 12th, 2008, 10:43 AM
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Arenal and Manuel Antonio are both family friendly. I'd do a combo of those and throw in a couple days at the Peace Lodge.
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Old Sep 12th, 2008, 12:50 PM
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Thanks! Do you know how far the drive is between each?

Also, I'm really liking what I'm reading about Puerto Viejo online. Do you think this would be doable with a 2 year old?
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Old Sep 12th, 2008, 01:40 PM
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They're each about 3 hours from San Jose, between the two, maybe about 5 or 5.5 hours. We haven't done the Caribbean side yet, but hipvirgochick and shillmac can give you more details.
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Old Sep 12th, 2008, 05:11 PM
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Puerto Viejo is fun to visit, but with our granddaughter, we focus on other areas.

She loves Peace Lodge (now I'm feeling guilty after coming from Belle's post--she is so right), and enjoyed it this year as a 3 year old even more than last year, of course.

Manuel Antonio has been a perfect spot for us as well--with a little one. We had the BEST time at Tulemar Bungalows last month. The lower apt. of Villa Mot Mot was so perfect with that huge bed. The pool was really nice and we loved the private beach. Didn't even make it to the part as we had everything we could have wanted at the hotel with wildlife galore. Tons of monkeys, great sloth views, iguanas, etc.

I'd focus there if I were you--I say that just because I know how well it works for that age.

On another note, she also really enjoyed Flamingo Beach Resort, which has a terrific pool, swim up bar, and large kids' pool nicely adjoining the adult pool--I repeat, terrific. Nice little playground as well next to the pool. Rooms are nice and clean with 2 queen beds (maybe doubles, but I think queens)--and excellent proximity to a fabulous beach in Playa Flamingo. While there, we also enjoyed driving the short distance to Playa Conchal and hanging out at that gorgeous shell beach with gentle crystal clear water.

Hope the suggestions help. Manuel Antonio is your closest location. It's about 4 hours to there from Peace Lodge. How much time will you have? That will help us help you plan. . .
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Old Sep 12th, 2008, 05:14 PM
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Sorry, meant to say "park".

Also, notice I keep mentioning what our granddaughter enjoyed. I'm sure you know that when they are that age, you really have to plan everything around what will keep them entertained and find your own enjoyment in that. You really don't get to do all the fun activities that all these places have to offer with a little one. We don't even try. . .we just chill, relax, and watch her have fun.
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Old Sep 13th, 2008, 04:53 AM
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Thanks so much! We have 9 nights ...Friday - Sunday.
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Old Sep 13th, 2008, 05:17 AM
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That's great. . more than I thought you had.

At this point, think a bit about yourselves. What do you and your husband think you'd like to do (or more appropriately, see)? Arenal would fit well into the mix if you'd like the opportunity to see an active volcano. Los Lagos Hotel is family friendly in that area.

BUT you and your daughter will unlikely be able to enjoy the hot springs in the area, which is a big draw. The La Fortuna waterfalls would be too steep and strenuous for either of you. The Hanging Bridges might be fun--haven't done them, not sure. Your little one is too young for the Cano Negro tour, which is a big deal in the area.
And the volcano might not show itself. . .

If you enjoy beach time, you might like a combination of the two beach resorts I mentioned earlier. It was perfect for us. We spent 3 nights in Manuel Antonio (Mot Mot), then went to Flamingo for 4 nights.

If you send up at Flamingo, it would be important to fly OUT of Liberia. Into San Jose, out of Liberia. Not sure what this would cost you, but it worked beautifully for us this summer at no extra cost.

You could also plan a few nights near the airport, staying just out of town someplace like Vista del Valle or Siempre Verde B&B (one of my new favorite places). From there you could enjoy Zoo Ave (in Alajuela, it is a fun 1.5 hour or so adventure through a "bird zoo" and other rescued animals). Also, the small towns all up in that area offer a lot--Grecia, Sarchi, etc. On the road to Poas Volcano, we always stop at Bosque de Fraijanes, where there is a little piece of property, very pretty with pleasantly cool temps, for kids to play. Nice restaurants in this area also. . .Chubasco's, Dona Julia's, etc.

From that area, you could tour the Doka Coffee Estates, all of you would enjoy. Siempre Verde B&B is owned by that family. This particular area is about 25 min. from the airport. Further up, you could enjoy Poas Volcano (also could be done from Peace Lodge, but I hate to leave that property, there is so much to do right there).

Long story short (too late for that, huh?), I think a combination of 2-3 nights near the airport, 2 nights Peace Lodge, 4 nights Manuel Antonio for beach. 3 hours back to the airport.

OR, for more beach, Peace Lodge or elsewhere near the airport for 2 nights, 3 nights Manuel Antonio, 3 nights Flamingo, flying out of Liberia.

If you want to visit Arenal, slip it in anywhere into the mix in place of something else. I left an extra night open for you to use as necessary or wanted.

The "adventurous" part, you can do alone, taking turns. . ziplines, etc, horseback, mangrove tours, hot springs, etc.


Also, be aware that the transfer from Arenal to MA is about 5-6 hours. You might want to arrange so that you don't go directly from one to the other. Along that topic, though, we found a portable DVD player to be very helpful (if your daughter likes children's DVD's). That and planning travel during naptime!

Good luck and have fun.
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Old Sep 13th, 2008, 09:02 AM
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Wow...thanks! That really helped lay things out for me better.

I'm thinking maybe we'll skip Arenal, since it seems we will probably be missing the best parts of that area. I would hate to be there and not be able to go in the hot springs or do those ruggid hikes or tours. Maybe we'll have to save that one for a trip without kids.

I'm loving the looks of Vista Del Valle and think it would definitely be a good option for us.

What do you think about any of the resorts in the Puerto Viejo area? It is much closer to San Jose than Manuel Antonio, right? How are the beaches there?
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Old Sep 13th, 2008, 12:28 PM
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No, it is further. That is why I thought it wouldn't be your best option. Nice area, no question, but would rather do it as a couple and not with children.

It would take you about 4-5 hours to get to Puerto Viejo. Manuel Antonio, on the other hand, is only 3. Definitely a good spot for you. Also, all of you are going to want to see plenty of wildlife. There's definitely more to be seen at MA.

Vista del Valle would be a good choice for you, no question. Good spot from which to visit Zoo Ave, good location to explore up the road toward Poas Volcano (you want to get there early for best chance of viewing the crater. . .9:00 or before). The little towns I mentioned, the park at Fraijanes, etc. You could easily spend 2 full days exploring at a leisurely pace.
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Old Sep 13th, 2008, 12:30 PM
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Forgot to answer some of your questions. There really are not any resorts in Puerto Viejo--small hotels. The infrastructure just isn't there to allow for a big tourism push (and most of us who like it there are really glad!). The beaches are pretty, some unsafe, as is true all over the country, lots of riptides. It always pays to ask.

At Manuel Antonio, Tulemar's private beach is very safe as is the 2nd beach inside the park at Manuel Antonio.
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Old Sep 13th, 2008, 01:32 PM
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I've taken my daughter twice to Puerto Viejo and we love the area. She's older than yours though (she was 10 and 11 when we went these past two years). I don't really call the lodges "resorts" there, but highly comfortable and stylish bungalow accommodations can be found at Cariblue, Azania Bungalows and La Costa Papito. I've stayed at Azania and they are lovely and nicely decorated bungalows. I've eaten at Cariblue and they have a gorgeous pool and lovely grounds as well. Both Cariblue and La Costa are bungalows like Azania, did not see the insides, but they are all in the same location and are set up in similar fashion. With a 2 year old I'd definitely recommend somewhere with a pool as the beaches can present a hazard at times when they're rough or have riptides.
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Old Sep 13th, 2008, 01:35 PM
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Also agree that the beach inside of Tulemar and BVV is a good choice with youngsters as well. Shillmac recently stayed at lower unit of Mot-Mot, and has great reviews on that, we stayed in the deluxe bedroom of BVV. I would go for Mot-Mot next time, not because our room wasn't wonderful, but for nearly the same price I think Mot-Mot is a better deal.
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Old Sep 14th, 2008, 06:39 AM
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Ok, I think I'm ready to make some reservations! Here's what I'm thinking...

Fly into San Jose
2 nights at Vista del Valle
4 nights in Manuel Antonio
2 nights at the Peace Lodge

Is that a good order for driving purposes? Also, would you reccommend Flamingo Beach resort or another resort in the Jaco area as a replacement for Manuel Antonio? Or, is MA nicer? We are more bungalo type people, than high rise resorts. We stayed at Turtle Inn, Blancaneaux and Chaa Creek in Belize for our honeymoon and are looking for resorts with the same type of feel. Thanks so much for all your help!!!
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Old Sep 14th, 2008, 07:11 AM
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No, don't sub Flamingo area for Manuel Antonio--no wildlife.

Your itinerary might work better if you switch Vista del Valle and Peace Lodge. Depends on your departure plans. VdV is 20 min. from the airport, Peace Lodge is an hour away (making good time).

Sounds like a great plan!
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Old Sep 14th, 2008, 07:12 AM
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And Jaco--no to that also. It is a hot spot for young people from San Jose, surfers, etc. The party scene is strong.
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Old Sep 14th, 2008, 07:16 AM
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Me again. . have plans for Chaa Creek in March. If you have time, shoot me an e-mail and tell me what you thought. We are coupling that with a few nights at Ramon on Ambergris Caye.

[email protected]
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Old Sep 15th, 2008, 01:49 PM
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Thanks so much! I sent you an email all about Chaa Creek this morning. Just wanted to make sure you got it. It is a wonderful resort..you will have a great time!
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Old Sep 15th, 2008, 05:18 PM
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And I replied. . thanks! And again, congrats!
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